Ahhh…chocolate. A magic “potion” that can make us forget our worries with just one bite. Imagine how intoxicating it must be for the people who make it! Just ask Red Thalhammer, founder and chief visionary of Antidote Chocolate, whose products emphasize health and indulgence, all in one bite. Mamiverse had the opportunity to talk with Thalhammer about her singular creations, her support of Ecuador’s businesses and the fact that the goddesses look favorably on each bar of socially-conscious chocolate.
Mamiverse: What makes Antidote so special and different?
Thalhammer: The raw and roasted aspect, the original flavor pairings and the superb quality, cacao concentration and organic ingredients. This chocolate is quite potent and invigorating, living up to its name, Antidote. We are the only company out there using a blend of raw and roasted cacao—this mix gives more dimensions, more nutrients, and more antioxidants. The minimal processing of the raw cacao helps maintain the healthful properties. Also, our flavor pairings are off the beaten path and created only with real ingredients (no flavorings), which allows for palate-wakening intensity. A true antidote—pun intended—for the soul!
Mamiverse: Do you think your travels to various, culturally rich societies have influenced Antidote creations?
Thalhammer: Definitely. A trip to Sri Lanka in 2000 just changed my way of preparing food. I visited tea and spice facilities filled with mountains of various dried plants, and I was so excited by the colors, aromas, and their medicinal benefits. Since then, I have held spices in the highest regard and learned to use them in my own ways. Growing up in Austria may have been a natural influence too. My mother, my friends and even my fellow countrymen represent a rich mix of cultures, which influenced Antidote.
Mamiverse: Why did you choose Ecuador’s cacao beans as a source for Antidote Chocolate?
Thalhammer: After tasting cacao and chocolate from all over the world, I fell in love with the balance of fruity, nutty and floral aromas of Ecuador’s Arriba Nacional organic cacao beans (our 10 different bars are 90% to 100% organic, depending on the flavor). There are other countries with superb cacao, but Ecuador was the best option for Antidote. I’m working as creatively as possible within the limitations of what can be sourced in Ecuador for the most part, to maintain a low carbon footprint and to create a sustainable product, help the farmers and the environment.
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Mamiverse: Making chocolate is an art—one could easily spend hours and hours talking about this laborious task; is there any way to briefly explain how you would pair different flavors and unique ingredients?
Thalhammer: Making chocolate is a miracle. It requires carefully selected beans, good machinery, and meticulous observation of the flavor and consistency of each ingredient in the raw state and how this may change through even minimal processing. In terms of flavoring, I smell and taste ingredients and use my creativity and imagination to find what would go well together and what would create a thrilling experience for the palate. I have no formula for the pairings. It’s all about composition, just like in design and music. I’m looking for a keynote, undernote and base frequency. The right rhythm and proportions are crucial. Antidote is complex and dramatic, like the process of making art.
Mamiverse: Antidote packaging is also a work of art—what’s the inspiration behind it?
Thalhammer: Chocolate is called “food of the gods,” so I named each of our “white label” bars after a Greek goddess. There was a lot of drama in Greek myths, and the Greek goddesses felt closest to human desires, dramas, and ailments. After all, Antidote was created to be the cure for it all. I designed the artwork and hand drawings of the Antidote Goddesses that you see on the product packages. The drawings were inspired by the shapes of the ingredients that add flavor to each bar and by the character attributes of the goddess associated to these ingredients. It’s simple: as powerful and inspiring on the inside as it is on the outside.